Relief – it looks like a compromise at last

first_imgRelief – it looks like a compromise at lastOn 13 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. The EmploymentAgencies Act is a very important piece of legislation for the recruitmentindustry. Nearly two years ago, when the Government produced its firstconsultation paper, it underestimated the scale of our operations and oursocial and economic contribution. Simply expressed, the industry finds jobs forpeople and people for jobs. With an annual turnover in excess of £18bn, 1million temporary workers on agency payrolls in any given week, and half amillion permanent placements annually, it is clearly important and useful.What a pity that the firstdraft of the Act painted us in “big bad wolf” colours and containedregulations that were unacceptable and unworkable. The industry and theGovernment have been on a collision course for 20 months, one feelingmisunderstood and threatened, the other, presumably, on a crusade to”clean up” recruitment. After strenuous lobbying, theGovernment has finally recognised the industry’s worth. Substantial revisionshave drawn the sting and added clarity. Agencies – not all, but most – haveaccepted that compromise is necessary.The single issue that generatedmore heat than light was the temp to perm fee. When an agency supplies atemporary worker and the hirer subsequently takes that temp on as a permanentemployee, the agency charges an introduction fee. The cost of attracting,assessing, briefing, administering and preparing the worker is considerable. Ifthe worker is lost to the agency after a couple of weeks, that cost is not recovered.The first draft regulationsbanned temp to perm, and the next draft proposed a four-week”quarantine” period, which was almost as bad. And now? We have 14weeks from the start of each assignment during which, if a temp is made permanent,the agency can charge a fee. The regulation needsclarification, but generally, agencies will feel able to continue to invest intheir workers. The economy needs every worker it can get.What else is new? Agenciessupplying HGV drivers were caught between two pieces of legislation, which ineffect made their operations illegal. The new draft exempts them, so they cancontinue their work. Agencies supplying limitedcompany contractors have some relief from the initial proposal that gave themno way to protect their longer-term interests in their contractors. Rulesconcerning the checking of references in the nanny, care and nursing sectorshave been tightened – no bad thing if sensibly applied. Clarification thattemps can be used to replace workers on unofficial strike is given. There arenew rules on the timing of providing contracts to temps, which we need toconsult on carefully.On the whole, our firstreaction is one of relief. It looks as if we can live with this, although weare not exactly dancing in the streets. We are consulting our members, and willrespond officially before the 16 March deadline.By Tim Nicholson, chiefexecutive, Recruitment and Employment Confederationlast_img read more